As information and communication technologies (ICT) are predicted to become increasingly important in healthcare, the German Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) has questioned 200 experts from research institutions, businesses and associations on their vision concerning the future of IT in the healthcare sector.
They assessed which developments in IT - such as artificial kidneys and robots used as nursing staff in hospitals - were felt to be technically feasible and economically worthwhile in the healthcare sector by 2020, and also asked whether patients would think positively about such new developments.
In their study, entitled 'Future Information Technology for the Healthcare Sector', the researchers underline that not all technical possibilities will be accepted by patients. The study showed, for example, that 64% of interviewees were reluctant to accept the idea of having an electronic chip implant storing their medical data and 20% of the respondents rejected the idea of 'emergency genetic testing'.
Whereas interviewees agreed that robots in nursing may become inevitable due to demographic change and a lack of nursing staff, 54% of the respondents were critical of the idea.
According to the authors, new IT-enabled applications and services that should be feasible by 2020 or even earlier include remote monitoring of patients at risk, better utilisation of hospital capacities through electronic data processing (EDP)-supported planning systems, implants that monitor bodily functions and automatically release medication as required and the use of virtual reality to train medical staff.